As cremation becomes an option more widely chosen the world over, it is interesting to step back and look at societies that have long embraced the practice, highlighting the beauty and simplicity inherent in cremation.
India is one such society that has not only embraced cremation, but celebrates it as a significant event in every person’s cycle of life. Discovery Digital Networks (affiliated with Discovery Channel) recently rolled out Seeker Stories, a digital-only network, where you can explore and experience one facet of cremation in a documentary entitled ‘Death Photographers’.
Produced by filmmaker Varum M. Nayar, this engaging story chronicles the niche market of individuals who provide the last (and in many cases, only) portrait of a loved one just before they are cremated on the shores of the Ganges.
The film presents the truly celebratory nature of death in India, showing entire families arriving to the river amidst a flurry of dancing and joyous music. The narrator reassures the viewer, “…death is not something looked down upon here, it is not creepy, it is celebrated.”
‘Death Photographers’ focuses on a few photographers who offer to capture the image of a family’s loved one, adorned with an array of flowers and certain cherished mementos and keepsakes. The reason for the photograph, sometimes aping the Victorian-era death photos, would seem to be so that the family would have a reminder of the deceased. But there are other, surprising, reasons families pay the small fee to have the picture made.
At one point in the film, as noted by Allison Meier in her recent piece at HyperAllergic, a farmer explains certain other reasons for the photograph. “They are used to prove the person is dead for inheritance or in government records,” states Manohar Jha. Continuing, he says, “Sometimes, family members and children who could not attend would like to see a final photo. Some offer daily prayers to the photos.”
The ubiquity of cameras in our culture will likely not lead to a rise in the art of death photography. The respectful and dignified options that cremation provides above and beyond a traditional burial will, without a doubt, see the incredible amount of interest in cremation continue its stunning increase in popularity, however. If you are interested in learning more about cremation as part of your end-of-life plan, contact Smart Cremation today by filling out the form to the right.